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Here’s how to navigate Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve reveling

Updated December 27, 2021 - 3:27 pm

With revelers set to return to the Las Vegas Strip and downtown to ring in the New Year, locals and visitors alike can expect an influx of traffic and road closures as the area ushers in 2022.

Officials aren’t projecting how many people will travel to Las Vegas for the holiday weekend, but noted Las Vegas typically welcomed around 330,000 visitors over New Year’s weekends before the pandemic. Justin Hopkins, Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman, said it’s difficult to predict whether the rapid spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19 will result in any last-minute cancellations or adjustments in travel plans.

Still, large crowds are still expected despite the unknowns regarding the new coronavirus variant.

“We expect many more people to drive in and out of Southern Nevada to ring in 2022 than did for last New Year’s Eve,” Hopkins said. “People who had to cancel getaways last year because of the pandemic are making up for lost time this holiday season.”

As is the case each year when fireworks are planned to be shot off from rooftops of various resorts along the Strip, roads leading toward Las Vegas Boulevard will shut to vehicle traffic well before the countdown to the new year begins.

The Nevada Department of Transportation will close the following Interstate 15 freeway ramps and surface streets beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday:

— I-15 north ramp to Tropicana Avenue, south of Russell Road.

— I-15 north collector distributor road to Tropicana and Frank Sinatra Drive.

— I-15 south ramp to Tropicana westbound and eastbound .

— I-15 north ramp to Flamingo Road eastbound and westbound.

— I-15 south ramp to Flamingo eastbound and westbound.

— Tropicana eastbound at Dean Martin.

— Flamingo eastbound at Valley View Boulevard.

— Hotel Rio Drive west at Dean Martin.

The Metropolitan Police Department also reminds New Year’s Eve revelers to leave strollers, backpacks, glass bottles, and bags larger than a standard grocery bag at home or your hotel room, as those items are not allowed on the Strip.

Downtown road closures

New Year’s Eve road closures on Fremont Street will begin at 5 a.m. Thursday and will remain in place until 10 a.m. Saturday.

Major closures in the downtown area include Fremont Street between Las Vegas Boulevard and Sixth Street.

Roads closed downtown to allow for controlled access to the Fremont Street Experience will start at 2 p.m. Thursday and run through 4 a.m. Saturday.

Those are Fourth Street and Casino Center Boulevard between Carson and Ogden avenues.

Transportation options

Anyone looking to get around the Strip without having to walk through the sea of people have one option during the New Year’s celebration: the Las Vegas Monorail.

The monorail will be the only motorized method of transportation operating along the Strip on New Year’s Eve and will be continuously open for 44 straight hours from 7 a.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Sunday.

Locals can buy $1 single-ride tickets at customer service booths located at every station (except the Las Vegas Convention Center) from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday with proof of Nevada I.D.

Tickets for out-of-town visitors are $5 for a single ride. Unlimited-ride passes are available for one day, two-day and three-day options starting at $13. Visitors staying through the weekend can save $3 on a 3-day unlimited ride pass by buying tickets in advance online through Thursday.

“Just like Las Vegas’ world-famous New Year’s Eve celebrations, the Monorail’s nonstop service during the Strip’s closure is an annual tradition that we are excited to bring back this year,” Ingrid Reisman, vice president of marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said in a statement. “It’s our pleasure to provide safe, efficient and cost-effective transit along the Strip during the destination’s most exciting weekend of the year.”

Face masks are required to be worn while riding the monorail, with social distancing suggested and hand sanitizer available at each station. Strollers, backpacks and glass bottles are not permitted on the monorail.

The Monorail features seven stations with five of those serving the Strip area including: MGM Grand; Bally’s/Paris; Flamingo/Caesars Palace; Harrah’s/The LINQ and the Sahara. Two more stations are located at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Westgate Resort.

Free rides on buses

Those looking to travel around the valley on the Regional Transportation Commission’s bus system will see increased service as buses will run on a Sunday schedule on New Year’s Day.

RTC transit system will operate on a Saturday schedule on New Year’s Eve.

The RTC is offering free rides on all routes from 6 p.m. Friday until 9 a.m. Saturday. The free rides include transit service on major streets throughout the valley, with direct access to and from the Strip.

Bus service to both the Strip and downtown is offered from the South Strip Transit Terminal at 6675 S. Gilespie Street via the Deuce and Maryland Parkway Route 109.

Masks are still required on all RTC buses and in all RTC facilities.

After the party is over, those returning to Southern California on I-15 should expect longer than usual commutes, mainly during peak travel times at the Nevada–California state line. The busiest times on I-15 are projected to be between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 3.

Save travels, celebrate responsibly and Happy New Year.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.

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